Driver's seat headrest - UGH!

I recently leased a 2018 Hyundai Sonata and I’m finding the driver’s seat very uncomfortable mostly because the headrest is not allowing me to sit up straight. I have taken to using a pillow to push my body forward so that the back of my head doesn’t even touch the headrest. In prior vehicles, I would take the headrest out, turn it around, and reinsert it. This would solve my problem and allow for a comfortable ride. With my new Hyundai, I am UNABLE to remove the headrest!

It’s awfully frustrating that the IIHS and/or car makers are so focused on keeping drivers safe that they don’t consider how their modifications are affecting them. If I don’t drive with a pillow behind me, I find that I have to look up at an odd angle so that with my progressive lenses, I can see the dash in addition to the road ahead of me. I was always told that if my car was ever submerged, the headrest could be used to break the window. So much for that safety feature!

I would love to find a solution to my problem. If anyone has any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it.

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Dumb question, did you not test drive before leasing?

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Have you looked in the owners manual to see if the headrests are adjustable more than just up and down? My Mustang’s headrest ratchets front to back.

There must be a way to remove them but I won’t tell you what to look for because I don’t want you to defeat the safety aspect of the headrest - whiplash prevention


I remember you or another member suggesting renting an identical car for a day or two for an extensive test drive. 15 minutes with the distraction of a yakking sales person is not sufficient.


The headrests in my 2010 Kia Forte are similar. When I was rear ended in my 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse the headrest slapped me so hard I was unconscious for a few seconds (no whiplash). For that reason I will keep my current headrests unmodified. It actually did not take long to get used to them.

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I did that, but not on purpose. I had reserved an Econobox, when I picked up my rental they had a Mustang ( no additional charge). Drove it for my three days. Bought one a month later.

[Disclaimer: I wouldn’t know a Hyundai Sonata from half-baked ricotta. They are not sold or rented near me.] However, I do drive.

Do you have to sit so straight?

What happens if you recline the seat back a bit? Does that bring your head off the rest?
Could you adjust to driving like that?

Is it like my GM cars that allow tipping the entire seat (lower cushion and backrest together) to the rear a bit?

Have you talked with Hyundai sales/lease staff to get some ideas as to how folks drive those things?

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I’ve solved this very problem on someone’s car by simply turning the headrest around. Most are designed at an angle from their “support posts” (my term), some severe.

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@TSM, tell @cgkrupa how to remove that thing!

From my experience, anything that has been assembled must come apart somehow. May not be easy. I didn’t think my rear ones came out either but when putting in a car seat for the kid, my DIL first pushed them all the way down, then pulled them out. Might be the same maneuver.

Daughter’s Kia Sorento has fore-aft adjustment on the headrest, but even farthest back, it hits the back of my head. It seems the design is meant to accommodate a part of the population that naturally slouches. Reclining the seat back is a quick solution, but the steering wheel is then a reach…move the seat forward and legs are crowded…

On most you simply push the button on the side of the receiver (that hole that the headrest posts go into) and pull up until the headrest assembly comes out. I looked at images of the Hyundai setup and it looks like those I’m familiar with.

Generally the posts are long and the seat will need to be reclined to remove the headrest.

I wouldn’t recommend that, unless you are absolutely certain that the car doesn’t have some kind of “active” headrest which moves into an appropriate position if the car detects an imminent crash

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These cars are very unconfortable for long trips because the seats are lacking padding material and the headrests are worthless.

As a side note - Has anyone else noticed how many young people drive slouched forward not touching the seat back? I see that all the time with teens to twenty somethings. Looks uncomfortable!

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That’s just BULL. Has nothing to do with IIHS. I’ve driven many vehicles that were extremely uncomfortable for me and many that are. The seat comfort is strictly a manufacturer design. What may be uncomfortable to you may be extremely comfortable for someone else. It’s been that way since the first cars were manufactured over 100 years ago.


Teenagers - NO. Short women - YES.

I’ve seen a lot of not-so-short women twenty-somethings do this.

in my wife’s Malibu, we switched the front headrests with the back. Front ones were tilted forward, and it made my back ache to drive her car for more than 10 minutes. (she had the car before we got married.) The back ones are much more straight up. with the old way, I had to slouch, because the headrest made my head at an angle that it would hit the roof. After swapping, no such issue.

After I swapped them, she tried it and liked it better, and her son likes it in the back better now.


Haven’t noticed the slouching but I have noticed the “gangsta” posture where they seem to lean to the center and look up on the right side of the steering wheel.